Grenache (known as Garnacha in Spain) and Syrah (Shiraz in Australia) are two complementary grape varieties that are blended in France, Spain and the New World. Their combination has been one of the most successful red wine marriages, and is at the core of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend.
In France the blend is widely used in the wines of the southern Rhone and various southern Vin de Pays departments. Both Grenache and Syrah prefer warm environments, such as the Mediterranean climate of southern France and eastern Spain.
Syrah and Garnacha are grown throughout Spain, but are most notably blended together in the prestigious wines of Priorat. In this environment the richness of the two grapes is accentuated and the wines take on aromas of black olives and berries with pronounced chocolate flavors.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia has been the most successful proponent of the blend. The South Australian regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale produce huge volumes of Grenache and Shiraz at all quality levels every vintage. The resulting wines range from dark and spicy to rich and fruity, taking on prune and raisin flavors in exceptionally hot years.
The blend typically uses more Grenache than Syrah. However, there are exceptions, such as in Australia, where the iconic Shiraz wines are renowned for their full, rich and generous flavors. In a Shiraz-dominant blend, Grenache helps make the wine more approachable in its youth and adds numerous brown spice flavors to Shiraz’s darker fruit.
Wines based primarily on Grenache tend to show more ripe red fruit flavors, particularly raspberry. Syrah provides more tannic backbone and improves the overall structure of the blend, along with darker colors and flavors, especially blueberry, licorice and an occasional gamey note the French call sauvage.
In the United States the blend is used in California and Washington by a group of producers who call themselves the Rhone Rangers. In South Africa a handful of Grenache – Syrah wines are produced in the country’s marquee Stellenbosch region.
Food matches include:
Europe: Steak au poivre ; Catalan herbed roasted leg of lamb (palpís de corder)
Australasia/Oceania: Herb-crusted lamb rack
Africa/Middle East: pastries with ground meat (feteer bel asaag)